Verco goes plastic free for a week.

As a result of our successful plastic free week in 2018, we decided to kick-off plastic free July with another plastic free week in our three offices. This has been a great opportunity to reflect on where we use plastic and look at ways to make improvements.

Some positive, ongoing changes that we made as a result of last year’s plastic free week:

  • We continue to purchase toilet roll from Who Gives a Crap, who deliver colourful paper-wrapped rolls in cardboard boxes and donate 50% of their profits to charity.
  • We also continue to purchase glass bottle milk in our Overmoor and Chorley offices.
  • Our coffee pod machine has been replaced with caffetieres, where the only waste is the coffee granules.
  • We now buy our handwash in bulk from Faith in Nature, with refillable bottles.

For plastic free week this year:

We purchased fruit, cheese and vegetables from local markets which omitted plastic packaging. The bakers among us were called upon to bring in home-baked bread and we also supplemented this by purchasing bread (in paper bags!) from a local farm shop.

Any left-over fruit and veg was composted at the end of the week.

All of our offices baked cakes and biscuits (treats by the London office below), instead of snacking on shop-bought, plastic wrapped ones.

The essential tea and coffee:

Tea and coffee is a definite ‘must have’ for our offices and last year we found this to be a major challenge. In 2018 we were unable to find plastic-free alternatives, so staff were given the choice as to whether they would give in to their need for caffeine and use plastic wrapped coffee and tea. This year we found several ways of overcoming the plastic:

Coffee

  • Our Chorley office purchased plastic-free Percol coffee (made from a plant-based foil which is fully home compostable; it breaks down into water, carbon dioxide and biomass) and use 100% compostable filters. All of Chorley’s used coffee granules are added to one of the team’s home compost heap.
  • Our Overmoor office purchased ground coffee from a coffee shop and asked them to put it into a re-useable tuppaware tub instead of a bag.

Tea

  • Our Chorley office purchased plastic free tea bags from teapigs.
  • Overmoor office purchased loose tea from a local tea supplier which sells the tea in glass jars (which we can use again) rather than plastic bags.

We also encouraged each other to go plastic free at home as well and have shared tips on doing this, such as switching to cleaning brushes which are made of wood and coconut fibre bristles, and instead of sponges which come in plastic packaging, using a washing up pad made from the loofah plant – these all seem to last much longer too!

What will we continue?

We will continue with the plastic-free toilet roll and milk and continue to compost used coffee granules in the Chorley office but the other plastic free options we have found have been much more time consuming and costly than our usual options. It has taken a huge team effort to bring together the plastic free alternatives which are probably unrealistic for a work environment, but definitely ‘food for thought’ at home.

However, the plastic free week has heightened our awareness of our use of plastic, which is otherwise easily overlooked. We have noted that we purchase condiments such as mayonnaise in plastic bottles and will be switching to glass alternatives. We will continue to use loose leaf tea in a teapot.

We now purchase recycled pens as standard, from a green stationary supplier and are looking at ways to improve our pen use further.